*(here is Mona and Bob at the game)
The Day Civil War Soldiers invaded an NFL stadium
Before each game started, there was the National Anthem complete with a color guard detail that marched to the center of the field. It was usually the United States military or local police or firemen who carried out these honors. However, one afternoon in 1991, I saw eight men wearing colonial dress of the Revolutionary War period, march up the 50-yard line. They carried flintlock muskets and the “Betsy Ross flag”.
The PA announcer said this group was from Fort Osage ((east of Independence, MO)
I was surprised to see they were using some local historical reenactors for this ceremony and at the same time, I was imagining our local Civil War Color Guard in front of those 78,000 screaming Chiefs fans!
I wrote a letter to Carl Peterson, the President and General Manager of the Chiefs, who referred me to the Game Production Coordinator. I believe I wrote a passionate letter explaining our outfit and even included a recent photo of the Color Guard. I even left phone messages. Just before the spring muster at Fort Scott, KS, I received a letter of acceptance for our group to appear at the December 13th home game against the New England Patriots.
A month before the game, I received another letter from the Game Production Coordinator. The letter instructed us where to assemble, what time to arrive, and so on.
Enclosed were eight game day tickets, a parking pass, and eight vouchers for free chow!
On the big day, I woke up at 6 AM, took a hot shower, put on my uniform (sack coat w/forage cap) and walked out of the house into the rain! Yes, it was raining! It was not a frog strangler and it did not come down like Noah’s flood, but it was annoying none-the-less. The cold drizzle would not stop the ballgame from being played, but it would put somewhat of a damper on us, as we would have to stand in the rain in wet wool and 12-pound rust magnets.
It was close to 11 o’clock by the time we squeezed into Arrowhead parking. We had to be inside the stadium within 15 minutes. We were already dressed out, thank God, so it was a matter of moments to slip on traps, etc, and head for the stadium entrance.
We had to enter by the South ‘elephant’ tunnel. This is where all the players, television equipment, trucks, and other maintenance vehicles come through. The tunnel is about forty feet wide by thirty feet high and is big enough for two jumbo elephant’s to pass through side by side. The ‘elephant’ tunnel extends way down into the bowels of the stadium for almost a quarter-mile.
Once we got to the end of the tunnel, we stopped and gazed out into that painted field of Astro-turf. Miles and miles of television cable snaked out of the tunnel behind us and on either side of that field. Civilians wearing badges were walking or going past in golf cart type vehicles taking equipment out onto the sidelines. We saw shapely looking cheerleaders, executives in business suits, and working stiffs in coveralls and rain slickers scurrying about like mice in a cage. It was a regular Chinese fire drill, but it seemed everyone had a purpose and knew what they were doing.
After a bit, the mascot, KC WOLF came out in a go-cart to perform some antics. This was a guy in a silly, fat wolf suit, but he always played to the audience and got a rousing ovation. His ‘schtick’ involved pouncing on some hapless fool dressed in the uniform of the opposing team.
By this time, the eight of us had moved to the visitor’s side of the field, right at the fifty-yard line. We formed two lines, four in front, four in back.
As we received our final instructions from the Game Production Coordinator, the visiting team was announced. The New England Patriots were a much different team back in 1992 than they are today. They weren’t that good, but they still had some big looking boys. The Pats came charging out of the ‘elephant’ tunnel like freight trains and lined up near us. Damn, these pups were tall and each looked to be about 300 pounds dripping wet.
Then after the home team was announced, it was show time for us!
We went to shoulder arms and marched straight as judges right up that fifty-yard line and halted dead center. Then we went to present arms while the anthem was sung.
Of course, the PA announcer said the colors was presented by ‘the Holmes Brigade Civil War Reenactors Color Guard!’
So we stood there, at present arms, with the rain coming down and turning our muskets into rust magnets while, Kansas City’s own version of Kate Smith warbled and wailed like a lounge singer. Of course she was under an umbrella! After what seemed like five minutes, the lady concluded her soulful rendition and we were allowed to exit the field.
I had the fist full of free tickets and free food vouchers, so we went in through the turnstile and walked up to the nearest food vendor. The stadium food is pretty generic, mostly hog dogs and burgers. Our vouchers got each of us a box lunch with one dog, one bag of LAY’S potato chips, and one small PEPSI! Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. The boys wolfed the chow down and we went to find our seats.
Our complimentary tickets were near the west end zone, near the ten-yard line. I had the tickets in my pants pocket, but when I went to dig them out, they looked like wet mush with the seat numbers barely readable. Fortunately, there were several empty seats to choose from; some of the fans deciding they could watch the game just as well from the warm, dry comfort of their living rooms. A fan in a red rain slicker told us to find a seat anywhere. We arrived at our seats just in time to see Chiefs running back, Christian Okoye, run into the end zone from the five-yard line.
I don’t remember how long we all stayed at the game.
Did we watch the whole shebang or did we leave early?
Anyway, the brief moment under the eye of all those Chiefs fans was over. Whether it was because of the football game or what, we did get some new recruits over the next couple of years. It’s too bad the weather was so lousy, but it was fun.
Surprisingly, after the spotlight performance of December 13th, 1992, and despite my best efforts, Holmes Brigade was never invited back to Arrowhead for the flag ceremony. This was around the time of Desert Storm, so from then on, it was all military people during the National Anthem. Perhaps Holmes Brigade closed the door on reenactors at ballgames or perhaps we can blame it on a real shooting war, which made ‘make-believe’ play soldiering seem insignificant and silly.